A few decades ago, computer games were reserved for geeks. Today they are mainstream, becoming a part of our society in the same way that movies have been for decades. If you think about it, games have been a major building block of our history. From board games that were around in 3500 BC to sports such as wrestling, they have always been a part of our education, growth and entertainment.

Today, this is truer than ever since games are available on virtually any medium, from mobile phones and TV screens to personal computers and virtual reality setups. However, many people do not really pay close attention to how games are made and what it takes to create a successful gaming company. This is something we will discuss at the UK Department for International Trade´s (DIT) Breakfast the day before Slush in a session titled ‘Future UK gaming and VR landscape, financing and business opportunities’. All ArcticStartup readers interested in gaming and looking for international growth can apply here by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

We bring up the UK because of its cluster approach to gaming companies. By that, we mean games in the UK are often treated as an art form instead of simply entertainment. This distinction is important if you are into making games, in terms of choosing where to locate and thinking about how you will build and scale your business.

You see, unlike many startups, gaming companies require an extremely large pool of specialists from different backgrounds, including developers, designers, digital artists, voice talent, painters, 3D modelling specialists, VR specialists, models, actors and more. This is true for not only triple-A titles but also many other games out there. If you see gaming that way, you quickly realise that it is unfair to classify ‘gaming’ simply as an industry on its own per say. It is much more beneficial to view it as a creative arts phenomenon.

Once you do so, you can plan accordingly. For instance, you can locate your company next to other creative arts companies to benefit from idea generation, talent availability and more. In addition, you can start looking at a wider range of universities and HR opportunities surrounding you.

A 2014 study by Nesta found that the UK video games industry is very strongly co-located, especially when it comes to the design, advertising, software, film, video and TV industries. Moreover, universities in the UK tend to cater to this phenomenon by providing relevant degrees in the creative-arts cluster.
Just a few years ago, ArcticStartup visited the BBC compound near next to Manchester, where one full skyscraper (The Landing) was dedicated to creative arts companies. For gaming, they had a full set of testing hardware, such as a 15-person playing area for beta testing games and a couple of fully equipped bedrooms with consoles for cognitive tests related to games.

The way the industry is heading, gaming could become the ultimate art form since it incorporates most other art forms inside the games or, with VR around the corner, worlds. It is also an industry that is growing at an extremely fast pace. Since 2011, growth in the number of gaming companies in the UK was almost 15 times faster than growth in the rest of the economy. As a result, the UK is home to titles such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’, ‘Worms’ and the recent controversial game ‘No Man’s Sky’.

In the Nordics, we seem to have an amazing eye for the design and data aspects of game development; however, not many well-known ‘artistic’ games are from the region. We hope that by working together around the world, we can see the rise of gaming as an art form and a business. Visit the DIT Breakfast on 29 November to learn more about the UK gaming sector, network with UK gaming experts and more.

There will also be a reception at the UK embassy in Helsinki on the evening of the 29th to welcome all tech companies interested in scaling their business internationally and especially in the UK. There will be a London investor panel and Think Rise from Manchester are sharing their views on supporting fintech companies’ global growth.

You can sign up for the reception by e-mailing [email protected]

Editor’s note: This is a sponsored post for UK’s Department of International Trade.

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